Sabarimala priest family turns down CM's offer for talk

Hundreds of devotees, mostly women, take part in the 'namajapa' (chanting the name of Lord Ayyappa ) during march in Kottayam, Saturday, October 06, 2018 against the Supreme Court verdict on the entry of women of all ages into the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa

The CPM-led Kerala Government’s call for consensus on the Supreme Court’s judgment allowing women of all ages entry to the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple suffered a setback on Sunday with members of the tantri (head priest) family backing out of proposed talks on the matter. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was scheduled to meet the priests and members of the erstwhile royal family of Pandalam, on Monday, amid protests against the government’s move to implement the court order without taking all stakeholders into confidence.

Priest Kantararu Mohanaru told reporters that the talks could wait until the outcome of a review petition the tantris, the Pandalam family and the Nair Service Society are scheduled to file against the judgment, on Monday. “We’ll wait for the response to the review plea and then consider the talks. The verdict is against rituals and customs followed in the temple. It has to be reviewed,” he said.

Members of the Pandalam family, former custodians of the hill shrine, said discussions with the government could be unproductive considering that it has made clear its intentions to implement the apex court order. A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court had on September 28 lifted the restrictions on the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years to the temple.

The Chief Minister had earlier confirmed that the government was not considering a review petition. The ruling CPM has been on the defensive in the face of protests against the judgment. The opposition Congress party and the BJP have backed the devotees’ agitation to “protect” ritualistic traditions of the temple. On Saturday, hundreds including a large number of women turned up for a protest against the judgment, in Changanassery in Kottayam district. On Sunday, protests were held in Thirunakkara in the district. In Pathanamthitta district where the shrine is located, the BJP called for a dawn-to-dusk shutdown on Sunday,

Meanwhile, the Travancore Devaswom Board which manages the administration of the temple is going ahead with arrangements for woman pilgrims’ entry including recruitment of woman personnel for the 2018-19 pilgrimage season. State Police Chief Loknath Behera has already announced the deployment of woman police personnel at the shrine. The temple will be open for monthly pujas between October 17 and 22. The annual pilgrimage season will commence on November 16.

 

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Sabarimala priest family turns down CM's offer for talk

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